What Trump's Proposed Wall Means for the Construction Aggregates Industry

Written by Alyssa Burley.

Source: Google Maps, Company data, Bernstein analysis

With the presidential election campaign season is in full swing, the experts at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. decided to publish a report analyzing the economic benefactors of the Republican Presidential Nominee Donald Trump’s proposed border wall between the United States and Mexico.

The report estimates, Mexico’s Cemex SAB will benefit the most from the project as well as Grupo Cementos de Chihuahua SAB, for which Cemex SAB owns a stake.  Other companies who stand to benefit include Martin Marietta Materials, Inc., Vulcan Materials, Co., and CalPortland, Co.

Barrier Wall Separating Israel from the West Bank.  By Zero0000, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=201840

According to the report, the project would cost more than $15 billion for a 1,000-mile long, 10-inch wide, 40-foot high (plus 7-foot underground) wall spanning the U.S.-Mexico border.  The proposed wall would likely be similar in design to the wall separating Israel from the West Bank.  

In comparison to other notable walls, the proposed U.S.-Mexico wall would be about 1/5 the length of the main portion of the Great Wall of China built by the Ming Dynasty.

How much material would an American Great Wall require?  It would take about 7 million cubic meters (9.1 million cubic yards) of concrete. 

To put the volume of concrete in perspective, a concrete mixer truck can carry around 10 cubic yards of concrete.  This project would require roughly 910,000 truckloads of concrete with an estimated cost of $700 million for the concrete alone.

The report also includes necessary ancillary construction projects like building roads so the crews can access construction sites through desert and mountain areas, which contributes to the $15 billion price tag.

“Despite arguments concerning which government will pay for construction, the large quantities of materials required may necessitate procurement from both sides of the border,” writes Phil Roseberg, lead researcher for the Bernstein report.

If Trump’s wall is built, the aggregates industry along the southern U.S. border with Mexico will see a sharp increase in demand, and thus the price of construction aggregates will soar.  Assuming the planning and land acquisition for the project takes about two years, “the impact on demand for materials would occur from 2018 at the earliest,” according to the report.

While many regions like Southern California are already facing construction aggregates shortages due to a lack of permitted resource and a continuing reduction in resource availability, come this November, the industry will know if they will need to prepare for a massive spike in demand in the coming years.  

According to the California Geological Survey’s 2012 “Aggregate Sustainability in California” study, San Diego County only has 16% of the estimated 50-year demand of permitted construction aggregates needed.  Adding an additional large scale project to the region will put even more pressure on the local aggregates supply.
Where the materials will come from is still up in the air as counties like San Diego are already struggling with a construction aggregates shortage.
Alyssa Burley is the Community Outreach and Marketing Manager at EnviroMINE, Inc.